• BMW Unveils "i Home Charging Services" at CES

    The i Home Charging Services can help reduce energy costs via actively managing charging times and sources, saving you up to $800 per year. Sounds good to me!

BMW is intent on showing the world its green-technology chops with a variety of new tech. The company is reportedly making new investments into hydrogen power for the future, and presently, we have the i3 electric and i8 hybrid already patrolling the roadways. But these cars take a regular fill-up at the outlet to run, which can get expensive. If you’re sucking juice off the grid during peak hours, all that money you save at the pump can appear with a vengeance on your utilities bill.

BMW wants to fix that. With a debut at the Consumer Electronics Show this week, the Bavarians plan to reveal i Home Charging Services, which combines “vehicle charging with the household electrical system and online-based data systems” to selectively choose the cheapest electricity available, cutting back on power costs. The automated system uses home-generated solar when available, or off-peak rates from the grid if solar isn’t an option. BMW claims the system could potentially save up to $800 a year for customers in the US.

BMW will also be at CES to uncover a concept product wherein batteries from its i vehicles are repurposed for at-home energy storage, which should help increase efficiency even further. Think of it as hybridizing your house.

The new system aims “to optimize charging costs and – if customers have a home solar generating system – to make possible use of home-generated solar power,” BMW states in a press release. “The fact that the system is integrated with home energy management systems also makes it possible to achieve the best possible balance between household electricity consumption and power used for charging the electric vehicle, thereby helping customers to achieve further cost savings and to make even more efficient use of solar energy.”

BMW hopes to make the new system available to customers as early as next year.

Click past the jump to read more about BMW’s new "i Home Charging Services."

Why it matters

Sales for electric vehicles and hybrids are increasing every year. While that’s great for gas prices, electricity costs are sure to rise. Complimenting an EV with an at-home energy-management system looks like it could become the norm as we move into a future without the internal-combustion engine. As this transition starts to unfurl, automakers are anticipating future demand. For example, Tesla is building supercharger stations, while Toyota is building hydrogen-refueling stations. Clearly, the infrastructure must start with the same companies that build the cars.

BMW i8

2015 BMW i8 High Resolution Exterior
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Combining advanced technology with a sci-fi exterior design, the i8 is every bit the spiritual successor to the M1 as one might expect. It’s a dynamic, high-end luxury sports car that looks like it belongs on the floor of a major car show as a concept vehicle. But for $135,925, customers can purchase this car and drive it every single day. It’s got a 2+2 layout that employs extensive carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic and aluminum to keep weight to 3,285 pounds, with a driver-centric, leather-trimmed interior that literally hums with innovative gadgetry.

The real draw for the i8 is in the drivetrain, which combines a 1.5-liter, three-cylinder engine to power the rear wheels, and an electric motor to power the front wheels, for a total all-wheel-drive output of 362 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. Pilots can choose between a variety of drive modes for either efficiency or sportiness, and at maximum strength, the i8 can hit 60 mph in a little over four seconds and reach a top speed of 155 mph, all with an on-demand fuel economy of 95 MPGe and 22 miles of pure electric range.

Press Release

At the Consumer Electronics Show CES 2015 in Las Vegas (6 – 9 January 2015) BMW i will unveil a further innovative product from its 360° ELECTRIC portfolio: BMW i Home Charging Services. This smart solution for home charging of electric and plug-in hybrid BMW models is based on the smart home-enabled BMW i Wallbox Pro system already presented by BMW in spring 2014.

How the smart charging service works.
Using BMW i Home Charging Services, the vehicle is charged with home-generated solar power whenever this is available. At other times, or if the household does not have a solar generating system, the vehicle is automatically charged at the cheapest off-peak rates. This makes it possible to take advantage of flexible electricity pricing that varies depending on the time of day. In the USA, this can result in savings of up to 800 dollars a year. With this fully automated charging service, customers get a simple-to-operate system that integrates vehicle charging with the household electrical system and online-based data systems.

“With Home Charging Services, BMW is the first vehicle manufacturer to offer such a broad-based EV smart charging product,” says BMW Project Manager Julian Lienich. “Our aim is to make mobility as cheap as possible for users and to allow them to maximise their use of green power – but without having to organise everything themselves.”

In Las Vegas, BMW will stage a live demonstration of BMW i Home Charging Services, which was jointly developed by BMW and Beegy, a provider for distributed energy-management, based on the Beegy Software Platform. In this demonstration, a solar carport supplies solar power straight to the BMW i Wallbox, which uses it to charge the vehicle. The system also uses real-time solar power data and home energy data supplied by Solarwatt and Kiwigrid. A screen at CES displays real-time weather data, together with solar power forecasts, showing visitors how BMW uses such forecasts to optimally manage charging times. Even if the sun is not shining, real-time electricity pricing data from Genability can be used to ensure that the vehicle is charged when electricity rates are at their cheapest.

The Home Charging Services demonstration in Las Vegas also gives BMW the opportunity to present a concept product: a stationary energy storage system built from repurposed batteries previously used in BMW i electric vehicles. Energy fed to this home storage system – for example home-generated solar energy – can subsequently be used to charge an electric vehicle or to meet household power needs. The ability to use solar energy regardless of time of day helps households to achieve higher levels of energy self-sufficiency and to minimise the impact of rising energy prices.

Optimised costs, optimised energy use and simple operation.
To sum up: BMW i Smart Charging Services aim to optimise charging costs and – if customers have a home solar generating system – to make best possible use of home-generated solar power. The fact that the system is integrated with home energy management systems also makes it possible to achieve the best possible balance between household electricity consumption and power used for charging the electric vehicle, thereby helping customers to achieve further cost savings and to make even more efficient use of solar energy.

A solar carport with a roof area of 25 square metres or more can produce enough power for 32,000 kilometres of electric driving a year (global average). Smart use of this power will in future provide BMW i customers with a fully self-sufficient charging solution for their vehicle.

This is the world’s first EV smart charging solution of its type, and it will be available to customers by 2016.

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